Disgraceful political games
If I believed for a second that Jack Straw cared about either free speech or the characterisation of Muhammad then I wouldn't mind this outburst quite so much. Sadly, as it is, after his trials and tribulations during the last general election I can't help but feel it is just a cynical ploy to shore up the sizeable Muslim vote in his constituency.
What's more, in "condemning the decision by some European newspapers to reproduce cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as "disrespectful"" he is throwing his weight into an argument he should ignore. Just as it is not the responsibility of Government - or rather it shouldn't be in a non-Islamic system of Government - to regulate the press, it should not be up to the likes of Peter Mandelson and Jack Straw to dictate what they should or shouldn't do. They are entitled to their opinion, but we may hold them to account for it. What is disappointing is that there was no real criticism of the extreme and unnecessary response across the Muslim world.
I have some concerns over the sagacity of reprinting these images myself, but I am more than acutely aware that the sort of attitude which thinks it can gag such free expression must be taken on and faced down. My greatest worry is that the rumblings of Mandelson and Straw, for short-term personal ends, are just to avoid a confrontation between our principles of liberty and democracy and those of militant Islam. In so doing we risk permitting an unacceptable ideology to grow even stronger, thereby delaying an inevitable confrontation to a time where we are less likely to win.
UPDATE: In the meantime, you can continue irritating this lot, but buying this lot, and at the same time showing you stand fully behind free speech, in its true meaning.
UPDATED UPDATE: More eloquent words than mine from Militant Moderate.